Blog Post B

We all rely and belong to multitudes of complex systems in our day to day lives. As a designer it is in our nature to approach problems within these systems in a more diverse and broad way, therefore creating innovating solutions. To do this our design solutions are to be effective on more than just a component level, they are required to be formed from a group of interacting, interrelated and interdepended components that form a complex and unified solution’ (Pegasus Communications, 2012)

Case Study:

Sian from EOP approached our team with a problem within the waste management system. Focusing our scope to organic waste, as a means to improve this system, we were given the brief to design a successful kitchen caddy liner that numerous demographics could use and construct on their own.

If done successfully these kitchen caddy liners would encourage residences to divide their organic waste from general waste so it does not arrive in landfill, resulting in the release of toxic greenhouse gasses and further pollution into our water ways.

Our group the Green Tea Leaves was able to successfully meet this brief. A large part of our designs success was due to our teams multidisciplinary backgrounds: integrated product Design (IPD), Visual Communication and Fashion and Textiles design.

Various collaborative approaches like these are encouraged in design thinking and problem solving because some issues are simply too complex for an individual to comprehend and resolve completely (Whyte and Bessant 2007). Our group found after complying with our charter that ‘Exercising collaborative skills and playing to one another’s strengths’ successful as it opened up new approaches and perspectives.

Each of us had different assets to contribute to make our design work, enabling our successful impact within the organic waste system:

IPD: Questioned the true origins of the problem within the overall system, conducted research and made sure our findings were compatible through concise recording methods.
Visual communication: Validated the success of our design, the construction methods needed to be easily and concisely communicated to an array of demographics while also remaining aesthetically pleasing.
Fashion and textiles: Tested the products functionality and aesthetics, utilising there connections with various people and making suitable adjustments when necessary.

Before Sian approached us, the Shoalhaven local council unsuccessfully designed their own Kitchen caddie liner and Flyer. This is a good example of why designers are an important assets within the management of organic waste. We firstly rely on professionals within this fields to understand the system, then we as designers are able to utilise our skillsets (like the ones listed above) to make improvements to the efficiency of already existing or implement new ideas, that people within this field do not have the knowledge about currently. (Checkland,P. & Paulter, J. 2006)


Checkland, P. & Poulter, J. 2006, Learning For Action: A Short Definitive Account of Soft Systems Methodology and Its Use For Practitioner,teachers and students, JohnWiley&Sons, Hoboken.

Whyte, J. & Bessant, J. 2007, Making the Most of UK Design Excellence: Equipping UK designers to succeed in the global economy, Innovation Studies Centre, London.

Pegasus Communications, 2012, What is systems thinking?, Systems thinker, viewed 10th May 2017, .

Post B: Group Caddie Design and Charter with Interdisciplinary Systems Design Thinking

The caddie design my group came up with was better than I could’ve imagined. Our concept meeting after a couple of hours came up with what I would call a simplified bag made out of paper. Initially we’d found a design online we all agreed was straight forward and easy to fold however coming from design backgrounds it was decided we needed to come up with our own original idea rather than something found off the internet. From there the group photographed and videoed the design to ensure communicating the design was easy to understand, straight forward and simple since the target market for the caddie liner is councils of New South Whales through the Environmental Protection Agency.

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Level Three Charter


What are our ‘ground rules’?

  • Consistency
  • Turning up on time
  • Communicating well through Facebook, contributing on assignments, giving feedback and opinions
  • Being vocal and voicing your opinions
  • Going through assignments together before turning it in
  • Complete assignments at / at least two days before due date

What will we do if a group member’s work doesn’t meet our standards?

  • Speak up assertively
  • Going about it in a respectful way (guidance, giving advice, offer help)

What are our goals? What are we trying to accomplish?

  • To produce quality work in a cohesive environment

How are we going to make decisions?

  • Consulting every member of the group
  • Everyone gets to voice out their opinions and give feedbacks

What skills, strengths and weaknesses do we have within our group?

  • Working well together along with good communication
  • Need to be more attentive
  • Keeping on top of dates
  • Staying on par and informing each other on new information / readings, etc

We, the group named LEVEL THREE agree with this charter and will try our best to uphold it.

The above is my group’s charter.


The Oxford Dictionary defines ‘charter’ as:


A written grant by the sovereign or legislative power of a country, by which a body such as a borough, company, or university is created or its rights and privileges defined. – A written constitution or description of an organization’s functions.

Oxford Dictionary 2017, Charter, viewed 9 May 2017, <;.


As a group we put these guidelines together to help everybody understand what was expected of them. Specifics like ‘turning up on time’, ‘communicating well through Facebook, contributing to assignments, giving feedback and opinions’ and ‘consulting every member of the group’ were a few that I thought were important to me. This means every member of the group is accountable and therefore action can be taken if they’re not meeting these guidelines.


How can different design disciplines contribute to organic waste solutions?

Design disciplines attempt to resolve design problems everyday however their process is catered to their discipline. If these processes are amalgamated with other design disciplines the difference in thinking and angle of approach can be the tipping point to creating a design solution. Many of the design practices learnt can be applied to organic waste in the sense of observational research, all disciplines partake but have different methods of what they do with the research and how they react to it. The same can be said for user testing. A designer from integrated product design (IPD) would have an extensive understanding of what to do with the information taken from user testing compared to a landscape designer. Yes a landscape designer still has user testing but not as detailed as an IPD designer. Working to each group members strength in the process can make the discovery of the solution to the problem some what easier.


Why is it important to include designers in the management of organic waste?

Designers look at problem solving differently to the average person. They think about the process each cog in the wheel goes through as part of the overall system. The designer may look at the whole picture rather than just a section of it realising that from looking at the whole picture the section can be fixed if another section is adjusted rather than the one with the problem. The solution may not always be in front of you. A designer is capable of moving through the stages of the design process to understand and change the design to then improve on what is already there.


What contribution does design make to thinking about systems? to changing systems? to inventing systems?

There wouldn’t be a system in the first place if someone hadn’t considered how the system would operate. By considering how the system would operate that is design. The depth of design depends on how complex the systems is in the essence of what day do you put your garbage bin out to be picked up compared to what route the garbage truck takes to empty the bins in your suburb that is time affective as well as conscious of the fuel taken to complete the action.

Many systems are thought about by improving an already existing system because someone thinks it can be done faster, more economically or to benefit a certain group of people. System’s design is always about making it better in some way shape or form. Designers have the background and experience to make it possible.

Post B: Caddie Liner Design reflection

The first part of the group project was developing a fold using newspaper, which then can be used as a container for organic waste within a desktop caddie. This folding technique should be communicated by a poster and/or video instruction.


  screenshot of the instruction video

As the brief was quite defined, there was not much space for ‚going crazy‘ on the design part. Therefore it was more likely a good exercise for figuring out how the group work takes place in general – getting to know the different strengths and weaknesses of your teammates and how their specific design discipline contributes to the subject. As designers we all ‚speak the same language‘, but still have an expertise e.g. in visual thinking and communicating, 3-dimensional thinking, a sense for different materials and working with these or going from flat surfaces to shapes. Beyond our expertise the group charter helped me personally to also get to know my teammates a bit better in terms of what values they have, what kind of a project attitude they developed in their studies, or in general what kind of persons they tend to be.

Image uploaded from iOS

personality cards – getting to know your team

In connection to designing solutions for organic waste systems an interdisciplinary design team can be a fruitful ground for developing sophisticated approaches. Industrial designers for example have a more developed understanding of different materials and how they affect waste, whilst communication designers are e.g. experts in putting information into graphics, meaning that e.g. a visual approach of an organic waste system helps the viewer to understand how the organic waste system works.

Speaking of systems, as part of the Interdisciplinary Design Lab class we read, thought and talked a lot both in class and within the groups about design and system thinking therefore using techniques such as audits or the critical system heuristics (CSH). This gave us a sense of the dimensions of systems and the influences different parts of a system have on other parts of a system. With regards to the caddie design, although the system ist due to the defined task not that extensive, it was useful outlining the whole process of the user interaction with the caddie. This means not only thinking of an easy and fast fold, that it contains enough food without dripping and that it fits into different caddie sizes but also what happens before and after that – where does the newspaper come from, is there a common type of newspaper, how do you get the organic waste out of the caddie and transport it afterwards, what effect hast paper on organic waste, …

As a designer I personally think you have to be aware of as many parts of the system you work in as possible because eventually you will interfere with different parts of the system or smaller subsystems. Clearly it’s not that you use every single information you gather in the end – at least not directly. It’s more like to develop a general sense and (gut-)feeling, something you cannot describe in words or with your conscience and knowledge, about your design and what kind of impact it has or may have. Remaining this holistic view helps in designing meaningful things, evaluating approaches, communicating with clients and your design team and beyond that many other things which makes system thinking methods a very powerful tool.


soft system methodology [and not methology ;-)]

Checkland P. & Poulter J. 2007, Learning For Action: A Short Definitive Account of Soft Systems Methodology, and its use for Practitioners, Teachers and Students, 1st edition, John Wiley and Sons Ltd., Chichester, England

Donald, N.A. & Stephen, D.W. 1986, User Centered System Design, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Hillsdale, New Jersey

Polprasert, C. 1989, Organic waste recycling, John Wiley and Sons Inc., New York, NY

Systems thinking: a cautionary tale (cats in Borneo) 2014, motion graphic, Sustainability Illustrated <>

Post B


Group Name:  Level Threes

Members: Sabrina, Hollie, Georgina, Stuart, Johnny

What are our ‘ground rules’?

  • Consistency
  • turning up on time
  • communicating well through facebook, contributing on assignments, giving feedback and opinions
  • Being vocal and voicing your opinions
  • Going through assignments together before turning it in
  • Complete assignments at / at least two days before due date

What will we do if a group member’s work doesn’t meet our standards?

Speak up assertively – going about it in a respectful way (guidance, giving advice, offer help).

What are our goals? What are we trying to accomplish?

To produce quality work in a cohesive environment.

How are we going to make decisions?

Consulting every member of the group – everyone gets to voice out their opinions and give feedback.

What skills, strengths and weaknesses do we have within our group?

  • Working well together along with good communication
  • Need to be more attentive
  • Keeping on top of dates
  • Staying on par and informing each other on new information / readings, etc

We agree with this charter and will try our best to uphold it.


As a team, we hired a private study space and began the process of designing our caddy by folding shapes with newspaper. Brainstorming ideas, we researched previous designs to see what was already out there. Coming up with multiple options, we were now aware of how many pages were necessary for thickness. A particular fold was deemed our most successful as we decided on a caddy design that utilizes a total of four pages.

The design was proven a success after each of our individual tests and experiments. In order to make our design readily available to the multi-cultural demographic of Australia, we’ve decided to exclude audio and subtitles to ease understanding. Allowing a user to apply this design in their own homes, our step-by-step graphics clearly indicates the caddy liner folding process.

We took photographs of distinct steps while filming our video. Applying these photographs to an instructional poster, we decided that photographs were the most clear and cater to a wider range of audiences. We also applied a street poster that could potentially influence the public to participate in utilizing this design in their own home, ultimately educating the community on organic waste.

Attempting to make our design as simple and as practical as possible, we are certain our caddy liner meets the needs of feasibility, sustainability and environmentally friendliness. Our group ultimately want to educate the community on organic waste throughout successful applications of visual communication sources.

Interdisciplinary design looks at many disciplines and categories at the same time. This approach can contribute to active organic waste solutions by looking at a project beyond its category and using intersections. Design can succeed in this field through communicating with the wider communities emotions and reasoning: “We’re experts at looking to the future.”

Creatives read about everything and are continually curious. In forming a solution to a problem, a designer becomes an artist. Utilizing an interdisciplinary approach, they train themselves to question all truths. By looking beyond the obvious, you have the capability to uncover a powerful solution.

Designers are critical in the management of organic waste through their combination of creative, technical and political solutions. A variety of disciplinaries maintain the ability to improve the design, construction and operation of organic waste. Identifying waste management solutions and programs, designers can education and sensitize correct waste disposal through a variety of their own strengths and focuses.

Design thinking is an overall mind-set that maintains specific methods that ultimately make significant contributions to the strengthening of systems. Centrally creating innovations to solve problems, design improves user orientation. Applying practise-driven methods, a designers contribution is vital through their ability to oppose established research methods. Necessary in providing varied solutions, their perspective ensures a wider exploration. This visualization and conflict with the norm assists in both the changing and inventing of new systems by means of methods and tools that are specific to interdisciplinary fields.


Petrovic, K. (2017). The Interdisciplinary Design Approach – HOW Design. [online] HOW Design. Available at: [Accessed 10 May 2017]. (2017). Design area 7 – Waste Management | EWB Challenge. [online] Available at: [Accessed 10 May 2017].

Brenner, W. and Uebernickel, F. (2016). Design Thinking for Innovation. 1st ed. New York: Springer.

Blog Post B: Interdisciplinary Advantage

Charter and Collaboration

Our group charter outlined the rules and expectations of our group members. The charter provided guidelines for acceptable activities such as being punctual to meetings, phone usage and eating, communicating through social media and completing work before class. We signed at the bottom to mark our commitment.


Groupwork Charter Image
An excerpt from the Green T Leaves’ Groupwork Charter

While we had agreed on paper to be punctual and prepared for meetings, we couldn’t account for the unexpected circumstances of reality. Group members were sick, more important assignments were due, meetings were miss-scheduled or forgotten. These missed opportunities slowed our progress and weakened collaboration. Susan A Nancarrow of the US National Institute of Health states that:

“…collaboration requires competence, confidence and commitment on the part of all parties. Respect and trust, both for oneself and others, is key to collaboration. As such, cooperative endeavour, willing participation, shared decision-making and time are required to build a relationship so that collaboration can occur” (Nancarrow et al. 2013)  

The key to improving our groupwork is to be continually put in time. Participation must be consistent so the group moves forward as a whole. Additionally, building a positive group-culture would encourage “willing participation” from more members and make teamwork a more enjoyable experience.


Interdisciplinary Advantage

The advantages of working in an Interdisciplinary team have become clear over the past 7 weeks. The IPD’s brought structural integrity and stability, our Fashion student brought tidiness and simplicity and the Vis Comm’s were in charge of effective visual media. Our backgrounds helped us better cater for our client’s needs. When there were tasks that no single discipline could complete, we were able to rely on each other’s skills. This view is shared by Robert Sternberg, a professor of psychology and education who wrote that:

“In today’s world, … problems of any significance … aggressively cross boundaries that render the perspectives and methods of single disciplines incomplete and inefficacious.

Students learn to think in terms of silos, but do not learn how to connect the silos of learning. A problem-based [Interdisciplinary] approach teaches such integration of knowledge and helps students realize how limited their thinking is.” (Sternberg 2016)

In our case, the integration of our knowledge “silos” allowed our group to design an effective caddy. We were able to overcome our personal disciplinary boundaries by utilising our collective skills and as a result produced a successful, award-winning result.


Designers for Systems

Design Thinking is quickly becoming an invaluable resource for corporations and big business. Businesses have realised the importance of a problem-solving approach that is iterative and user-centered. Because designers specialise in emotional intelligence and can empathise with their clients, they are able to identify behavioural patterns that point towards opportunities. The founder of Creativity At Work, Linda Naiman says:

“Human-centered innovation begins with developing an understanding of customers’ or users’ unmet or unarticulated needs. The most secure source of new ideas that have true competitive advantage, and hence, higher margins, is customers’ unarticulated needs.” (Naiman 2016)  

The success of designers does not come from tackling the biggest problem – but from understanding that the problem is the sum of many smaller ones. By working personally through small problems one person at a time, designers have the power to affect change across whole systems and work cultures. This is what designers can contribute to systems and business.


Designing for Organic Waste

The Organic Waste system is a difficult problem to address because it is constrained by the limitations of existing infrastructure and a diverse spectrum of cultural attitudes. Positive, lasting change requires implementing changes from end-to-end through primary research, prototyping, analysis and iteration at both the micro and macro scale. Designers will be essential in managing organic waste because it takes creativity and innovation to surpass the barriers of understanding, environmental values and tradition.



Naiman, L. 2016, ‘Design Thinking as a Strategy for Innovation’, Creativity At Work, vol. 1, viewed 8 May 2017, < >.

Nancarrow, S., Booth, A., Ariss, S., Smith, T., Enderby, P., Roots, A. 2013, ‘Ten Principles of Good Interdisciplinary Team Work’, US National Library of Medicine / National Institutes of Health, Vol. 1, viewed 7 May 2017, < >.

Sternberg, R. 2016, ‘Interdisciplinary Problem-Based Learning: An Alternative to Traditional Majors and Minors’, Association of American Colleges & Universities, vol. 1, viewed 7 May 2017, < >.

POST B: Reflection

Caddie Bin Liner Design

In reflection, our group worked effectively together and our newspaper caddie design had a successful outcome. A group charter was created that begun with talking each members dislikes and likes from previous group works so we were all clear on boundaries and expectations. This was quite helpful as it designed a way of working on the project that worked for everyone.

Screen Shot 2017-05-10 at 8.05.16 AM

Our first stage of the project consisted of meeting together for a design workshop, bouncing ideas off one another and prototyping variations of newspaper caddie liners till deciding on the most successful design. While not each group member found it easy to design various options, having each person was highly beneficial, not only for being fully formed, supporting team, but in conducting user testing. This determined whether or not the designs were easy to understand and learn.

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Interdisciplinary Design

Design has the ability to impact how we live day to day. Designs often become seamless and overlooked once adjusted to. The voting ballot is a great example of system design that goes unnoticed until it is designed poorly impacting greatly. The “butterfly” ballot cards of the 2000 U.S. presidential election in Palm Beach County, Florida were changed, however, the new design was found to be so confusing by voters that it potentially had the impact of changing the election outcome. This proves the importance of design contribution and the possible implications of bad and/or undervalued design.

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In 2007 Annie Leonard, an environmentalist, and Jonah Sachs, a designer, came together to create a film called ‘The story of Stuff’ about the issue of our society’s waste culture. This film was praised for its interdisciplinary team, notably the impact of how bringing a designer into the project and valuing design enabled the issue to become engaging to a broad audience. We as a society have awareness to environmental and sustainability issues, however, with a lack of design inclusion there is less potential to effectively communicate and impact behavioural change (McMahon); design had the ability to give a voice of clarity and persuasion in a way that can inspire people to embrace a system better as a shareholder.



Persson, J.G. 1997, ‘TED – Experience from interdisciplinary design projects with students of industrial design, engineering design and economy/marketing’
Fred Dust, F. Prokopoff, I. 2009, Designing Systems at Scale, Rotman Magazine, 2009, pp. 52-59

Inside Politics, 2011, Newspaper: Butterfly ballot cost Gore White House, viewed 7 May 2017 <;

McMahon, E. 2017, Pacific Standard: Designers can help save the planet, viewed 7 May 2017 <;


Post B: Group Reflection & Research Methods

As a part of the Interdisciplinary subject – we, as a group, needed an in depth understanding of research methods, and how to utilise them within our kitchen caddy project. Consisting of team members from different design fields, we’ve contributed by sharing our experiences and integrate them together to create an effective method of research to complete our project. Having had the opportunity to work for a real life client, we approached this together by brainstorming key points we needed to tackle this project itself. 

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We started of discussing about a group charter, which consisted of agreements relating our ground rules, standards, goals, decision making, as well as strengths and weaknesses that would compliment one another as a team. We began by researching existing caddy liner designs by researching what was already out there in the market, analysed what has been done as well as what worked best, and took that into consideration to start our brainstorming process, in which we have tackled in a quite hands on way.

Starting up this project, we needed to understand how to tackle this project, which regarded such a complex topic like Organic Waste as it is such a big part of us, and how sensitive this topic may be to some. Considering how our group consists of not only different design practices; we come from different backgrounds and habits growing up, as well as different types of homes, from apartment buildings, to family houses, etc. We used this information and gathered our personal experiences and understood each others practices, and put that into consideration as well. For example, I myself live in an shared apartment with two other students, in which two bins are shared. One bin is for our general waste, and the other is for recyclable items such as packaging, bottles, etc. Each individual had their own waste practices, and understanding where we needed to grow and improve our ways, the easier it is for us to understand the on going issue of this Organic Waste topic.

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We made sure we understood types of design methods and strayed away from merely assuming, rather, testing and observing for facts. This project relates to a few design methodologies as shown above; we want to know how to investigate our topic effectively, therefore, we needed facts. We revealed the effectiveness of our kitchen caddy liner by doing experiments within our homes to see if we were able to move forward onto our next design step. We, as a team, strongly agree that one concept must be grounded before moving on to the next one, so that we will end up with a strong product at the end. Organic Waste as a topic is quite broad in itself, therefore, different viewpoints are highly expected, although, it is very useful for us as we used it to move forward with our design practices. Prior to starting our group assignment, we’ve made a post regarding an audit, in which facts are depending on the observers view point. In our case with the caddy liner design, we’ve used these points not to just find answers on what works best, rather, finding solutions to how to improve our design and making sure we test it out to ensure it working for people around us as well. With a topic like Organic Waste we want to make sure that our attitude towards our project reflects how complex this topic actually is, and not overlook that there are definitely more than a handful of ways to tackle this on going problem. 

Research Methods An Introduction. N.p., 2017. Web. 8 May 2017. <>